Rejected Short Stories – How The Lonely Prince Found Peace

This is one of my Jack stories. They’re a series of modern fables revolving around a solitary protagonist named Jack. Sometimes Jack is a prince, other times he’s just a wanderer. In this story, he’s not referred to by name. This story was rejected back in 2014 as well.

How the Lonely Prince Found Peace

            Long ago, there was a Lonely Prince. The prince was lonely because he had not found a princess to rescue. All the people in the castle told him not to worry because he was sure to rescue a wonderful princess someday. The Lonely Prince believed them. But he was growing tired of waiting for her call.

            Then one day, the Lonely Prince heard that the Most Wonderful and Beautiful Princess in the World was in need of rescue. He saddled his horse and rode off to the Far East. Many days passed, and the prince slew a mighty dragon, solved three riddles, and rescued a kitten stuck in a bush. His name grew in prominence.

            Finally, the prince came to a great tower that was one hundred feet high. At the top, the Most Wonderful and Beautiful Princess in the World leaned from her balcony shouting, “Help! Help! Only a prince can rescue me from this tower!”

            So the prince climbed all one hundred feet and landed on the balcony where he said, “My lady, you are the Most Wonderful and Beautiful Princess in the World. I am here to rescue you.”

            But the princess replied, “What you say is true, I am she. I can only be rescued by the Prince in Red. Are you he?”

            The prince looked down and saw he was wearing white. “No. But surely I can rescue you as well as he could?”

            “Alas!” said the princess, “None may rescue me save the Prince in Red. And though you climb one hundred feet or a thousand, you cannot rescue me. Be gone.”

            The prince was sad and left. He went back to his castle where the people said not to worry because he was sure to rescue a wonderful princess someday. When the prince had finished being sad, he saddled his horse and rode off into the Great White North. If he could not rescue the Most Wonderful and Beautiful Princess, he was resolved to seek out the Most Wonderful and Intelligent Princess in the World. Many weeks passed, and the prince slew a fire-breathing dragon, solved nine riddles, and rescued a cat stuck in a tree. His name became famous.

            Finally, the Lonely Prince came to a tower that was one thousand feet high and stood in the center of a valley of thorns. At the top, the Most Wonderful and Intelligent Princess in the World leaned from her balcony shouting, “Help! Help! Only a prince can rescue me from this tower!”

            The prince hacked and slashed with his sword until all the thorns had fallen. Then, he climbed up the tower and landed on the balcony where he said, “My lady, you are the Most Wonderful and Intelligent Princess in the World. I am here to rescue you.”

            “What you say is true,” the princess replied. “I am she. I can only be rescued by the Prince in Black. Are you he?”

            The prince looked down and saw he was wearing white. “No. But surely my clothes are not that important? I could carry you down in both arms and climb down using just my feet, and we’d still arrive safe.”

            “Alas!” said the princess, “None may rescue me save the Prince in Black. And though you lay waste to a valley of thorns or an army of trolls, you cannot rescue me. Be gone.”   

            The Lonely Prince was sad and left. He went back to his castle where the people said not to worry because he would rescue a wonderful princess someday. When the prince had finished being sad, he saddled his horse and rode off into the Wild West. If he could not rescue the Most Beautiful and Intelligent Princess, he was resolved to seek out the Most Wonderful and Caring Princess in the World. Many months passed, and the prince slew the mighty Hydra, solved the riddle of the Sphinx, and pulled a thorn from the paw of the Nemean Lion. His name became legendary.

            Finally, the prince came to a tower that was one thousand feet high, engulfed in thorns, and surrounded by an army of trolls. At the top, the Most Wonderful and Caring Princess in the World leaned from her balcony and shouted, “Help!  Help!  Only a prince can rescue me!”

            Wasting no time, the Lonely Prince charged the troll army. The clang of swords and the shouts of warriors were heard for miles around. When the dust had settled, the army of trolls was no more. The prince hacked at the thorns, clearing a path to the tower. He climbed all one thousand feet and landed on the balcony. After pausing to catch his breath, he turned to the princess and said, “You are the Most Wonderful and Caring Princess in all the land. I would be honored if you would let me rescue you.” 

            And the princess replied, shaking her head, “Alas!  For I can only be rescued by the Prince in Gold! You cannot rescue me, be gone.”

            The prince, who had grown tired of this sort of thing by now, sat upon the balcony and pleaded with her. “My fair lady,” he said, “I can rescue you as well as the Prince in Gold, the Prince in Black, the Prince in Red, or any other prince, pauper, or king. And you are wonderful, loving, and wise. Surely you can see that my garments make no difference? But if they do, I will gladly don robes of gold.”

            But the princess began to weep: “You have heard my answer. Not if you wore all the gold of the sun, all the red of the rose, or all the black in the night sky. You cannot rescue me. Be gone!”

            Once more, the prince pleaded, “You must understand. I have slain mighty dragons, solved intractable mysteries, and rescued adorable cats. Am I not a prince?”

            But the Most Wonderful and Caring Princess only sobbed louder. “Alas!” she cried. “You are a prince. But you are not the Prince in Gold. Now be gone, or I shall throw you over the balcony.”

            The prince was sad and left. This time, he did not go home. Instead, he went into the Southern Desert, in search of the oracle who dwelled among its shifting dunes. He was certain that the oracle would help him find the wonderful princess he was meant to rescue. Many years passed. The prince slew no dragons, rescued no cats, and solved no mysteries. But he learned three languages, told nine jokes, and loved twelve friends. His name brought a smile to the hearts of many.

            Finally, he came to a tent. Inside, a woman sat, robed in purple silk, and gazing into a crystal ball. “Enter,” said she, “for I have been expecting you. You have traveled very far, and you have had many adventures. Come and sit. Eat and drink.” And the prince tied his horse and entered the tent, closing the flap behind him. He sat on a cushion, breathing deeply. He ate some dried dates and drank a glass of goat’s milk. Finally, he turned to the woman and asked, “You are the oracle of the Southern Desert?”

            “Yes,” she replied. “I will give you three answers to three questions.” 

            The prince thought and thought. And finally, he asked his first question. “Who am I?”

            The oracle smiled and said, “You are the Prince in White.”

            The Prince in White nodded. “Where is the princess who must be rescued by the Prince in White?”

            The oracle looked at him with a tear in her eye. “There is no such princess,” she replied. 

            The prince was shocked. He almost ran out of the tent and out into the desert, a madman. But he controlled himself and asked his third question. “Am I meant to rescue someone?”

            The oracle smiled, laughed a little, and replied, “Yes.”

            And the prince finally understood. He smiled a deep, knowing smile as his soul became light. He gave the oracle a big hug and paid her in various trinkets from his many journeys. He gave her a bouquet of roses from the east, a bag of ice from the north, a bar of gold from the west, and a handful of Southern Desert sand from just outside her tent. Then he went out, untied his horse, and rode away. 

            The Prince in White rode for many, many years. He battled many dragons, solved many mysteries, rescued many cats, learned many languages, told many jokes, and loved many friends. He rescued no princesses and did not care to. For he had learned that while there are many princes who need to rescue and many princesses in need of rescuing, some princes must rescue barmaids, just as some witches must rescue kings. And then, some are homosexual, but that is another story altogether. 

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